It can be challenging to go through a divorce, but things can become even more complicated if children are involved. Our child custody attorney in Orlando offers these rules of engagement to work on child custody arrangements that satisfy everyone. After years of frustration and miscommunication, you and your spouse have finally agreed that getting a divorce is the most logical decision.
However, if you have children together, you might face some tough choices about their ongoing care and your level of involvement in their lives moving forward. Determining child custody can be complicated and overwhelming. Still, with a clear understanding of how to protect your rights and make arrangements, you can make it through this challenging period and help your children cope with any changes in the best way possible.
Parents who are getting a divorce are typically encouraged to create a custody agreement, also known as a parenting plan, usually with the help of their lawyers. Ideally, a written parenting plan or agreement defines how each parent will share decision-making and time regarding their children. This plan helps set the stage for a successful relationship post-divorce because it sets transparent expectations, which can help reduce conflict between parents and reduce confusion for a child regarding commitments, schedules, and roles. You can work together to negotiate and create a parenting agreement, or you can reach out for help from a child custody mediator or other professional. The courts will likely make the understanding you reach into an enforceable court order to use if a spouse does not follow the terms.
A parenting agreement is meant to determine how to handle child custody. Child custody involves parents' responsibilities and rights for caring for their children. Your final divorce decree will include child custody, and there are various types, so it is essential to understand the custody type you are deciding. For example, legal custody determines a parent's ability to make important decisions about their child's life, like what school they will attend, medical treatments, and religious affiliations. Physical custody involves the right to have your child living with you and their care day to day.
When a child resides primarily with a single parent, that parent is determined to be the custodial parent, with either sole physical custody or full physical custody. The opposing parent is termed the non-custodial parent and usually be awarded visitation rights. In some situations parents, may share physical custody, meaning children go back and forth between households. It is important to remember that the rules regarding physical and legal custody vary according to state and individual circumstances, so it's typically best to seek the advice of an attorney to ensure your children's best outcome.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on a child custody arrangement, you will be required to attend Family Court to determine a ruling on an agreement that will be in your child's best interest. A child custody hearing is a court proceeding used for determining procedural matters and temporary orders. On the other hand, a child custody trial is when parents present evidence and arguments for a judge to make a final determination. The judge will also review your duties and rights as a parent.
When making custody determinations, the courts can make various arrangements.
For example, some parents may share legal but not physical custody or vice versa. Before you appear in court, it is crucial to work with an experienced lawyer who can help you understand the proceedings and prepare you for what to expect. In addition, make sure you document all interactions with your children and discussions with your spouse, whether they are phone calls, emails texts, or in person. Finally, it is good to dress appropriately to make a good impression. Be prepared to do the following during court proceedings:
Also, it's vital to make an effort not to blame or point fingers at the other parent during these proceedings, as a judge's primary role is evaluating the information you provide to the court, not your personal opinions. Finally, always make an effort to negotiate child custody with your children's best interest as the sole intention. One of the worst experiences that a child can go through during a divorce is realizing that a parent has ulterior motives or feeling caught in the middle between their parents fighting for them in a long, drawn-out custody battle.